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UF Small Animal Hospital to offer free eye, heart screenings for service animals

Holly Kitchen, a veterinary ophthalmology technician, checks the eyes of a service animal at UF’s Small Animal Hospital. (File photo)The University of Florida’s Small Animal Hospital will offer free eye and heart screenings for service animals May 11 as a part of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists-StokesRx National Service Animal Eye Exam event.

Service animals typically include guide dogs, disability assistance dogs, detection dogs, police dogs, search and rescue dogs, and formally trained and certified therapy dogs. Only active working animals that have been certified by or enrolled in a formal training program or organization qualify for the exam.

Caryn Plummer, D.V.M, an associate professor and board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist at the UF College of Veterinary Medicine, will perform the eye examinations. Board-certified veterinary cardiology faculty members will provide the heart screening examinations.

“Healthy eyes and vision are critical for a service animal to be able to perform to the best of its ability. Regular screening may help detect problems early that are potentially sight- or comfort-threatening, so that intervention may be possible,” Plummer said.

If the veterinarians determine further tests are needed, the service animals’ owners will be able to schedule appointments.

Owners or their representatives should call the UF Small Animal Hospital at 352-392-2235 and ask for Holly Kitchen or Katherine Devine of the ophthalmology service to schedule an appointment for the eye and heart evaluations. Appointments will be scheduled between 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Registration through the sponsor via their website,, is also required between April 1 and April 30.

“We are very pleased to be able to offer these screenings for this incredibly important group of animal heroes,” Plummer said.

 The University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine is supported through funding from UF Health and the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

About the Author

Sarah Carey's picture

Sarah Carey

Public Relations Director, College of Veterinary Medicine

Sarah Carey, M.A., A.P.R., is director of public relations at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, a job she has held since 1990. Formerly, she was editor of...Read More